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IELTS for UKVI: Types of IELTS tests required for living and studying in the UK

The UK is perhaps one of the most popular destinations for both working professionals and students from all over the world to pursue and carve out a career. However, before anyone gets their student or work visa approved, they will need to sit for IELTS and meet the requirements to be able to access academic or professional opportunities in the UK. But are you taking the right type of IELTS that is required? Read on to find out if you are on the right track!

Understanding IELTS Tests

There are five types of IELTS tests: IELTS Academic, IELTS General Training, IELTS for UKVI (Academic), IELTS for UKVI (General Training) and IELTS Life Skills. But first, which type of test should you take if you are a student or a working professional?

IELTS General Training vs IELTS Academic Test

The IELTS General Training test is meant for individuals looking to migrate to countries such as Australia and the UK as well as to enter English speaking countries for secondary education, training and working opportunities. The test helps to measure your English proficiency in a practical, everyday context such as social and workplace interactions. The IELTS Academic test, however, is structured for people looking to study or train in a university or higher education institute that teaches in English at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Because of this, the IELTS Academic test is a more comprehensive test with differences in the reading and writing components.

The Structure Of The IELTS (and the differences between IELTS General Training & Academic)

There are essentially 4 sections of the IELTS test - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

The Listening Section:

This involves listening to recordings of native English speakers and then answering a series of questions. This section will be similar for both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests.

The Speaking Section:

In this test, candidates will be speaking with a certified IELTS Examiner where they will be discussing about a familiar topic through short and long questions. There is no difference here between IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic tests.

The Reading Section:

This test is meant to assess a candidate’s range of reading skills and there is a difference between IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic test.

The IELTS General Training test will be focusing more on passages relating to the workplace and general interest topics. This will include extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and company handbooks.

The IELTS Academic test, however, will be more focused on texts which are descriptive, factual and analytical and will be coming from sources that include books and journals.

The Writing Section:

With 2 writing tasks in this section, there is a difference you should know between the IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic test.

For the IELTS General Training Test: 

Task 1 involves writing a letter as a response to a situation and task 2 involves discussing an argument or point of view through an essay.

For the IELTS Academic Test: 

Task 1 involves writing about facts and figures that are presented on graphs, charts or tables. 

Task 2 involves writing an essay revolving around an academic topic where forming a well-organised argument packed with supporting examples is key.


For UK visa applications (both IELTS General Training and IELTS Academic), it is important to take your IELTS at a UKVI approved IELTS test centre. This means that in order to acquire a student visa, IELTS for UKVI is mandatory.

Those who are applying for a Tier 4 student visa to a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) to study a bachelor or postgraduate degree are required to meet the English language level set by the institution. While all British universities and colleges accept IELTS results, you can also use your IELTS for UKVI scores.

Book your test with IDP

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Computer-delivered IELTS

You can now take IELTS on computer! Get your results in 5-7 days.

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